Another trivia question – what is the only island that has three countries on it? Yes, Borneo. It has Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. And it is the third largest island in the world after Greenland and New Guinea. (Australia doesn’t count as it is a continent).
After being greeted with local music and given a beaded necklace by the local women, we spent the day hiking at the Mount Kinabalu National Park. Arthur was our guide and shared a lot of history on the bus ride to the Park.
We stopped at a local market on the way and chatted with the delightful village men and women. They grow dry or hill rice here, it is what we call wild rice. They also have a wide array of fruits and vegetables like we have seen in the other Asian countries. Nancy bought the small bananas and we all enjoyed how sweet they are.
This is beautiful forested country and many of the villages require a very long trek through the jungle to reach. The bus had to climb high into the mountains. The highest peak is 13,431 feet. It was clouded in when we arrived, but we caught a glimpse in the afternoon.
The hike was in the tropical jungle on the Silau Silau trail, we had lunch at the Liwagu restaurant and then had a hike through the botanical mountain garden. This area is Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is an incredibly diverse selection of flora here, including 1200 species of orchids,, 25 species of rhododendrons, 9 species of carnivorous nepenthes plants.
I couldn’t quite get a shot of the world’s smallest orchid, it is about the size of a half carat diamond!
I am sure that my photos don’t do the beauty much justice, but here are a few of the species we saw. Many botanists from around the world come here to do research and some of the species are completely new.
We had just a couple of raindrops, and it was much cooler on the mountain than at the port.
Arthur shared some of the superstitions and talked about the days of headhunting. Some people still believe that they will need to climb the mountain to reach heaven before they die, so they grow their fingernails long to help them climb!
There are churches every few miles as you go up the mountain. 60% of the people are Catholic.
The city has some new and spectacular buildings. This is a fast growing economy and the city is mostly quite modern, unlike the remote villages.